read terrorism’s eye-opening untold story

March 11th, 2010 — 9:05am

Fear is the lifeblood of terrorism, and we all fear the unknown.  So there’s no better counter to terror than simply spreading understanding.

For the first time, an entire book on the history, origins, and future of terrorism is available for free online in an easy-to-navigate format. Tremble the Devil was written by a Harvard-educated counterterrorism analyst, it’s an accessible, fast-paced distillation of everything you need to know about the world’s most dangerous phenomenon. It combines compelling narratives with approachable academic explanations into an intriguing and salient book that reads like a novel – it’s The Looming Tower meets Freakonomics.

Spreading understanding is so important because people only freak out when they don’t understand what’s going on, the true nature of the threat. And so terrorism only works when we don’t realize that terrorists as individuals are – often as not – pretty freaking dim. That’s why the book is posted up online for free: in the hope that when the next attacks hit they’ll be a little less effective, because after reading the book you’ll understand terrorism a little bit better and freak out a little bit less.

Feel free to bookmark this page to come back to later since you don’t have the time to get through an entire book just now and you’d rather read a brief piece about current events, the most recent posts can be found below at the blog below or on the sidebar to the right. Here are some of the most popular posts:

because we destroyed ourselves – outlines the damage the War on Drugs has done to the African-American community by incarcerating a highly disproportionate number of black males, creating a cycle of economic and social fragmentation within our innercities.

innocents and innocence alike – draws parallels between acts of terrorism and asymmetric warfare by tying the emergence of modern terrorism to documents stolen from the home of America’s Special Forces.

the racism instinct - explains humanity’s bloodthirsty history as an inevitable result of the differing immunological compositions of our largest social groupings and the urge to pass on robust immune systems that are fit to their environments to our offspring.

it’s hard out here – traditional publishing never worked, it was an industry ruled by chance and blind luck. It’s demise will be the best thing that’s ever happened to authors as the royalty system is rearranged and bureaucratic fat is removed from the system.

the importance of being anonymous – free speech has always implicitly been anonymous speech, and at no time in our history has it been more under siege – especially within the internet, the last bastion of free and anonymous speech

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because we destroyed ourselves

August 19th, 2014 — 4:21pm

(read the book free onlineread the Reddit AMA)

As our financial crisis deepens and the schisms between the haves and the have-nots continue to open, American drug laws and the prison system they’ve perpetuated are beginning to gather an increasingly harsh spotlight. But so what. It’s not like the War on Drugs, which started over forty-years ago in 1973, has done anything to increase the growing level of economic disparity in America… right?

A lot happened in 1973.

It was a few years after Nixon slammed the gold window shut, the waning hours of a decapitated Civil Rights movement, and the year we began to disentangle ourselves from Vietnam. But it also marks the genesis of the War on Drugs: the year the Rockefeller Drug Laws were passed. And that same year something funny happened: the income gap between black and white began to widen back out, instead of closing – as it had been up until 1973.

Did the start of the War on Drugs play a significant role in creating our present economic and social realities – where the average black family has eight-cents of wealth for every dollar owned by whites, and a black child is nine-times more likely than a white child to have a parent in prison?

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blowback in our innercities

October 9th, 2012 — 9:55am

(read the book free online - read the Reddit AMA)

 From Anaheim to the Windy City, America’s urban centers are steadily and relentlessly beginning to rotate into the gyre of violence and retribution that all too often serves to foment revolution and unrest. And with poverty levels surging to the highest levels since the ’60s, the era of America’s last widespread innercity riots, avoiding more violent demonstrations and protests seems increasingly unlikely.

Over the weekend in Anaheim, California an officer involved shooting devolved into an intensely troubling scene which saw police officers firing rubber bullets and beanbag rounds into an already dispersed crowd of civilians and a police dog attacking a mother and child. And then over the next few hours the situation devolved into further chaos:

Throughout the night, police in multiple marked and unmarked squad cars attempted to control an unruly crowd gathered near the shooting scene. Some cordoned off the intersection at East La Palma Avenue and Anna Drive with the same yellow crime-scene tape used by police where the shooting happened.

Some moved a Dumpster into the intersection and set its trash on fire on at least three separate occasions only to be met with multiple officers who kept responding to move it out of the way of traffic.

About 9:30 p.m., an Anaheim helicopter hovered above the crowd while police on the ground brandished batons and other weapons at the crowd, attempting to keep order.

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Comment » | Chicago, current affairs, domestic terror, drug violence, islamist, legalize marijuana, militant islam, Muslim, organized crime, racial inequality, racial tension, racism, reform, revolution, terrorism, war on drugs

what jihadists want

July 11th, 2012 — 9:14am

(read the book free online - get a copy for your Kindle - read the Reddit AMA)

Nidal Malik Hassan may not be alone. At least, not for long. In late June, NPR reported that the FBI has over 100 open investigations into members of the U.S. military who may have ties to Islamic extremists, roughly a dozen of them are considered serious:

The FBI and Department of Defense call these cases “insider threats.” They include not just active and reserve military personnel but also individuals who have access to military facilities such as contractors and close family members with dependent ID cards.

Officials would not provide details about the cases and the FBI would not confirm the numbers, but they did say that cases seen as serious could include, among others things, suspects who seem to be planning an attack or were in touch with “dangerous individuals” who were goading them to attack.

Whether any of these cases will amount to anything remains to be seen, but recruiting people with access to military materiel seems like a logical and potent approach, especially given the predilection of Afghan nationals working with our military overseas to stage attacks against American troops:

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2 comments » | 9/11, After the Arab Spring, al-Qaeda, Arab Spring, counterterrorism, current affairs, domestic terror, Egypt, faith, islam, islamist, John Bradley, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, Middle East, militant islam, Muslim, news, politics, revolution, terrorism

convert or die… or wait a few hundred years

June 30th, 2012 — 4:39pm

(read the book free online - get a copy for your Kindle - read the Reddit AMA)

You probably missed the phenomenal article on China in the LA Times a while back, which came on the heels of more and more morose news of what’s looking less and less like a recovery of the American economy. Among other points, one of the more central themes the article focused on was that Chinese culture is not American culture:

The Chinese have a powerful sense of their identity and worth. They have never behaved toward the West in a supplicant manner, for reasons Westerners persistently fail to understand or grasp.

China is simply not like the West and never will be. There has been an underlying assumption that the process of modernization would inevitably lead to Westernization; yet modernization is not just shaped by markets, competition and technology but by history and culture. And Chinese history and culture are very different from that of any Western nation-state.

And so far as I can tell, no one protested this observation as bigoted or racist or even remotely controversial. It’s simply a cultural observation.

Chinese culture is not Western culture. It is, as they say, what it is.

Cultures instill different values, they have different norms, they lead to markedly different behaviors. As the article so aptly put it, our “failure to understand the Chinese has repeatedly undermined our ability to anticipate their behavior.” Western culture, it’s often said, is rooted in “Judeo-Christian” values. These values have become imbued in our legal systems and constitutional rights, over thousands of years religion has seeped into our sense of justice – of right and wrong.

This exact same argument of culture dissonance can be made when it comes to religion, between Christianity and Islam, although just about everyone seems terrified to bring up the obvious.

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Comment » | 9/11, al-Qaeda, Charlemagne, Christianity, Clovis, condoning violence, faith, islam, islamist, Muslim, news, Nicene Creed, organized religion, terrorism

when Justice lies

June 27th, 2012 — 6:18pm

(read the book free online - get a copy for your Kindle - read the Reddit AMA)

When you are sworn into Federal Court, you are exhorted to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Each of these phrases carries a slightly different angle against any possible lie – not only are you swearing to speak no lies, but also to not hold any part of the truth back, and to not mix in lies among the truth you do tell.

And so by its own standards, the US Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics has been openly and unabashedly lying about the racial divisions that remain within the American penal system for at least the past seven years.  It’s a lie so patently absurd that if our current President was incarcerated, the Department of Justice would pretend he wasn’t there, and whitewash his existence from their racial prisoner data entirely.

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Comment » | controlled substance, Current Events, diversity, economics, innercity violence, islamist, marijuana, organized crime, politics, prison system, racial inequality, racial tension, racism, reform, war on drugs

the iron law of prohibition

June 21st, 2012 — 10:28am

(read the book free online - get a copy for your Kindle - read the Reddit AMA)

Much like pinatas, there are a plethora of reasons to legalize marijuana.  There’s the fact that it’s easier for American teens to buy than alcohol anyways, the fact that legalizing marijuana alone would raise nearly $20 billion in taxes and savings, the fact that its illegality helps directly fund the muderous multi-billion dollar international drug trade, the fact that scientifically it’s markedly less harmful than either alcohol or tobacco:


But if you’re at all interested in the issue, you’ve likely heard all of the above arguments before. After all, our drug laws have never really been about public safety, but instead “on the belief that there is a class in society that can control themselves, and there is a class in society which cannot.”  However, one argument you may not have heard applied to America’s ongoing War on Drugs is the the Iron Law of Prohibition:

The law says that the more you try to enforce prohibition (bigger budgets, larger penalties, etc.) the more potent and dangerous prohibited drugs become. This is based on the premise that when drugs or alcohol are prohibited, they will be produced only in black markets in their most concentrated and powerful forms. If all alcohol beverages are prohibited, a bootlegger will be more profitable if he smuggles highly potent distilled liquors than if he smuggles the same volume of small beer. In addition, the black-market goods are more likely to be adulterated with unknown or dangerous substances. The government cannot regulate and inspect the production process, and harmed consumers have no recourse in law. When applied to rum-running, drug smuggling, and blockade running the more potent products become the sole focus of the suppliers.

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14 comments » | Breaking Bad, controlled substance, crystal meth, drug violence, gangsters, legalize marijuana, legalize weed, marijuana, news, organized crime, oxycodone abuse, oxycontin, politics, prison system, Prohibition, racial inequality, reform, war on drugs

top 10 reasons you shouldn’t be afraid of terrorists

June 21st, 2012 — 8:23am

(read the book free online - get a copy for your Kindle - read the Reddit AMA)

10. After the bungled Glasgow International Airport attack, one of the terrorists was apprehended by a Scottish cabby who kicked a burning terrorist in the balls so hard he tore a tendon in his foot.

9. The Times Square Bomber, Faisal Shazhad, locked the keys to both his get-away car and his house inside the car-bomb he rigged.  The car bomb consisted of a bunch of fireworks stuck in a bucket, and a bunch of fertilizer.  Inert, non-explosive fertilizer that only served to muffle the blast.

8. While terrorist “mastermind” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was hiding out in the Philippines, he kept a low profile by renting a freaking helicopter and making fly-overs of the building where the “cultural dancers” he wanted to date worked. They were impressed enough to allow him to take them on a date. He chose the local Wendy’s.

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1 comment » | 9/11, al-Qaeda, Glasgow bombing, islam, islamist, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, kick a burning terrorist in the balls, news, Pentagon, politics, shariah, stupid terrorists, terrorism, Times Square, war on drugs

more blowback in the Windy City

June 20th, 2012 — 1:17pm

(read the book free online - get a copy for your Kindle - read the Reddit AMA)

UPDATE: The summer gun violence hasn’t calmed down at all: the weekend of June 17th saw 7 killed and nearly 40 injured by gun violence in Chicago, the next weekend pushed the total June bodycount to 20, and on the 4th of July alone 5 were killed and 21 wounded,

So far 2012 is on pace to be the bloodiest summer ever in the Windy City, there have been far more murders in the city than U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan, and the annual homicide rate is up 38% from last year.

A little while back al-Qaeda’s American-born spokesman “Adam the American” released a video exhorting Muslims in America to wage the “death by a-thousand cuts” version of jihad.  Instead of looking to stage large dramatic attacks which would require months of preparation and planning, he implored would-be jihadis to simply buy guns and start shooting people:

Muslims in the West have to remember that they are perfectly placed to play an important and decisive part in the jihad against the Zionists and Crusaders, and to do major damage to the enemies of Islam waging war on their religion, sacred places, and brethren.  This is a golden opportunity.

“The way to show one’s appreciation and thanks for this blessing, is to rush to discharge one’s duty to his [community] and fight on its behalf with everything at his disposal.  And in the West you’ve got a lot at your disposal. Let’s take America as an example, American is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms…

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Comment » | Chicago, innercity violence, news, politics, racial inequality, racial tension, reform

the racism instinct

June 16th, 2012 — 9:29am

(read the book free online - get a copy for your Kindle - read the Reddit AMA)

10,000 years ago something funny began to happen within the human genome.  We didn’t know it at the time, but minute changes that would haunt every generation to come were slowly and imperceptibly unfolding inside each and every one of our ancestors.

Almost like flipping a switch, what had once been a steady rate of mutation  suddenly increased, and “the pace of change accelerated to 10 to 100 times the average long-term rate.” These changes were driven at least in part by the development of agriculture, the domestication of both plants and animals.  Some human guts retained the ability to digest lactose as adults, others adapted to deal with a grain-heavy diet. Although agriculture wasn’t the only factor and there were certainly other forces at play, we do know, without question, that 10,000 years ago mutations in our genome began to accumulate at a pace never before seen in human prehistory.

Life as we’d known it would never be the same.

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Comment » | Africa, anthropology, biological racism, genetic compatibility, genetics, human genome, human migration, immunology, impact of agriculture, MHC genes, racial tension, racism, smell a mate, war on drugs

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